How to Pick a Dental Assistant or Hygienist Program near Norfolk 02056
Selecting the right dental assistant college near Norfolk MA is an essential initial step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But prior to making your choice, you need to assess and compare your school options. There is much more to doing your due diligence than choosing the college with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the program that is closest to your residence. There are other significant factors to take into account as well, such as the school’s reputation and accreditation. Your initial step is to decide which of the two specialties you are most interested in getting training for, which may depend on the amount of money and time that you have to commit. The most typical dental assistant program usually takes about 12 months to complete for a certificate or diploma. On the other hand, dental hygienists generally earn an Associate Degree, which can take anywhere from 2 to 3 years to finish. Naturally with the lengthier training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will discuss all of these concerns and supplemental questions that you should be asking the colleges you are reviewing later in this article. But first, let’s explore the roles of both dental hygienists and assistants and the training options offered.
The Duties of Dental Assistants
Dental assistants are an indispensable part of any Norfolk dental practice and can perform a myriad of functions. Their primary job description is to provide assistance to the dentists and the administrative staff. In other words, to help keep the practice working efficiently. Many Massachusetts dental assistants elect to specialize and receive certification in a particular area, for example pediatrics. However most assistants perform any job that they are asked to fulfill, such as:
- Setting and verifying appointments
- Prepping patients for teeth cleanings and treatments
- Preparing and sterilizing instruments for dentists
- Using suction equipment to clear patients’ mouths
- Handing instruments to dentists during procedures
- Readying X-ray machines and handling X-rays
- Purchasing dental and office supplies
Certification and licensing requirements for dental assistants deviate by state, so consult with the Massachusetts dental board for your state’s regulations. Assistants handling X-ray machines more than likely will have to be certified and licensed. Many dental assistants who are either required or decide to become certified take the Certified Dental Assistant (CDA) examination offered by the Dental Assisting National Board (DANB).
The Role of a Dental Hygienist
When comparing the duties of a Norfolk dental assistant to that of a hygienist, the most significant difference is probably that the hygienist works more on their own. As earlier mentioned, the dental assistant works with and in support of the practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also assisting the Massachusetts practice, work with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are typically the initial person a patient encounters when called from the waiting room. They examine every patient’s gums and teeth and present their results to the dentists. They may also perform basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist’s responsibilities can include:
- Removing plaque, tartar and stains
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Polishing teeth and applying sealants
- Educating patients regarding oral hygiene
- Taking X-rays and developing film
- Removing sutures and applying fillings
In order to be licensed in nearly all states, dental hygienists must have graduated from a Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA) accredited dental hygiene program. They must also pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination in addition to passing any state licensing examinations. After they have completed these requirements they are deemed fully licensed and can add the “RDH” designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist and Assistant Training Options
Dental assistant courses are available at Massachusetts junior colleges as well as vocational or technical schools. The most typical credential acquired is the certificate, which generally takes about one year to finish. There are less Associate Degree programs available, and they furnish a more comprehensive education, including general subjects in addition to the dental assisting courses. Due to the added responsibility in contrast to an assistant, dental hygienists working in dental offices are often required to have an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. These programs can take anywhere from two to as long as three years to complete and must be accredited by the CDA in almost every state. They are also offered in trade schools and community colleges. Whether you are pursuing training as a dental hygienist or assistant, there will be a clinical aspect to the training also. Many programs also sponsor internships with Norfolk area dental practices or dentists.
Dental Online Programs
Enrolling in an online dental assistant or hygienist program may be a great option for receiving your training. Just remember that the program will not be completely online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the rest of your classes will be provided via your personal computer in the convenience of your Norfolk home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those working while going to school, online dental classes make education far more obtainable. Some may even offer lower tuition fees than their on-campus counterparts. And additional expenses such as for commuting, books and school supplies may be lessened also. The clinical training can typically be performed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything necessary to receive the proper education is furnished. If you have the discipline for this mode of learning, you might find that enrolling in an online dental program is the right option for you.
Subjects to Cover With Dental Assistant or Hygienist Schools
When you have selected the dental specialty and type of credential you would like to earn, you can begin the procedure of comparing Norfolk area schools and programs. As we discussed at the opening of this article, many students begin by checking out the cost and the location of the schools. Maybe they look for several online options as well. Although these may be relevant initial points to consider, there are several additional questions that you need to ask of the Massachusetts programs you are comparing in order to arrive at an informed decision. To start that process, we have provided a list of questions to assist you with your evaluation and ultimate selection of the right dental program for you.
Is the Dental College Accredited? There are several good reasons why you should only choose an accredited dental hygienist or assistant college. If you are going to become licensed or certified, then accreditation is a requirement in almost all states. In order to take the Certified Dental Assistant examination, your dental college must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps establish that the instruction you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Norfolk area employers often prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited programs. And finally, if you are requesting financial aid or a student loan, frequently they are not offered for non-accredited colleges.
Is The Appropriate Dental Program Offered? You can choose to train to become a dental hygienist or a dental assistant, just make certain that the school you choose offers the program that’s right for you. For the assistant program, the choices are to earn either a certificate or an Associate Degree. If you want to work as a hygienist, many Norfolk area dental practices require an Associate Degree in dental hygiene. More advanced degrees, although not common, are offered. However, keep in mind that just because a school has an exceptional reputation and accreditation does not mean each one of its programs do as well. For example, an accredited college may have a solid accredited dental assistant program, but may have a weaker or non-accredited hygienist program. So if you are only interested in a dental hygiene degree, obviously it would not be the right college for you.
Is Enough Practical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is a necessary portion of any dental training program. This is true for the online college options as well. Many Norfolk area dental colleges have associations with area dental practices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It’s not only imperative that the school you select offers enough clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently would like to work in. For example, if you have an interest in a career in pediatric dentistry, confirm that the college you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a regional dental practice that specializes in dental care for children.
Is There an Internship Program? Find out if the dental schools you are evaluating have an internship program. Internships are undoubtedly the best method to get hands-on, practical experience in a professional Norfolk dental practice. They help students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students establish professional relationships in the local dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes as well.
Is Job Placement Assistance Offered? Many students that have graduated from dental assistant or hygiene colleges require assistance obtaining their first job. Check if the schools you are considering have job assistance programs, and what their job placement rates are. Programs with high job placement rates are likely to have good reputations within the dental community in addition to large networks of contacts where they can place their students for employment or internships.
Are the Classrooms Small? Find out from the Massachusetts programs you are evaluating how big on average their classrooms are. The smaller classes usually offer a more personal setting for training where students have increased access to the teachers. On the other hand, bigger classes can be impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If feasible, find out if you can monitor a few classes at the school that you are leaning toward in order to experience first hand the degree of interaction between students and instructors before enrolling.
What is the Entire Expense of the Program? Dental hygiene and dental assistant training can vary in cost based on the duration of the program and the amount of practical training provided. Other variables, for example the reputations of the colleges and whether they are public or private also come into play. But besides the tuition there are other significant costs which can add up. They can include costs for such things as commuting and textbooks as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when comparing the cost of programs, remember to add all of the costs associated with your education. The majority of colleges have financial aid offices, so make sure to ask what is available as far as loans, grants and scholarships in the 02056 area.
Are the Classes Accessible? Before enrolling in a dental college, you need to make sure that the hygienist or assistant program provides classes that accommodate your schedule. This is especially true if you continue working while acquiring your education and need to attend classes near Norfolk in the evenings or on weekends. And even if you select an online school, you will still have to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while addressing your concerns, ask what the make-up protocol is if you should need to miss any classes due to illness, work or family issues.
Pick the Right Dental Program near Norfolk MAPicking the right dental assistant or dental hygienist program is essential if you wish to take the CDA examination or, if mandated in your state, become licensed. As we have covered, there are a number of options offered to receive your education and it takes a relatively short period of time to become either a dental assistant or hygienist. You can acquire your formal education through dental programs at junior colleges, technical institutes, trade schools and vocational schools. Graduates of these schools normally obtain either a certificate or an Associate Degree. Dental Assistants can be practicing in just 9 months to a year, while Dental Hygienists typically require approximately 2 years of studies before they enter the job market. When pursuing either a degree or a certificate you can choose to go to classes online or on-campus. Whichever mode of education or credential you choose to pursue, by addressing the questions presented in this article you will be better prepared to make the right choice. And by doing so, you will be ready to begin your journey toward becoming a dental assistant or hygienist.